Bernadine Gerl, age 92, of Joliet, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at Joliet Area Community Hospice Home
Born January 25, 1929 to Frank and Julia (Matichak) Tomac, she was a lifelong Crest Hill/Joliet resident. Bernadine was a graduate of Chaney Grade School and Lockport Township High School. She met her future husband, Bernie, at a baseball game at Rivals Park in Joliet where he was a baseball player and she a spectator. They were to have been married in October of 1948, but injuries resulting from Bernie’s infamous baseball accident delayed the marriage until February 1949. Their wedding bands are forever engraved with the wrong date. They were married 71 years until Bernie's passing on November 7, 2020.
Bernadine was a beloved daughter, wife, mother, grandma and great-grandma. She relished her family given name of "Gram." She was most happy in her own kitchen where she was a wonderful cook and baker, most notably of apple strudel with perfect, paper-thin dough. Other specialties included potica, roshky and rosettes. She generously shared her creations with many. Her culinary talents will live on as she "crash coursed" her youngest son when he became a fireman and realized he had to cook for his shift. She had an uncanny knack for being lucky and enjoyed visiting local casinos and winning at scratch-off lotto tickets. In her earlier days, she enjoyed fishing and then frying up the catch of the day. She insisted on keeping sharp by doing crossword puzzles and watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Bernadine traveled the world with her husband, but most enjoyed their annual trip to Minnesota to visit their son and his family.
Born during the Great Depression, her father died when she was 4. She was raised by her mother to whom she remained totally devoted until her passing in 2003. Bernadine loved welcoming new babies into the family and was the ultimate baby whisperer. She prided herself in beginning the family tradition of three offspring. Each of her three children had three children of their own. Of those nine grandchildren, those with children have all brought three children into the family. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were her joy. She never forgot to acknowledge a special day with a greeting card and the young offspring would always be gifted with new pajamas and a dollar for every year on their birthday. Every visit to Gram's house saw the young ones leave with treats and loving reminders to dress warm. Gram, we love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.
Surviving are three children, Bill (Patt) Gerl of Minnesota and Florida, Diane (Jim) Blackburn of Shorewood and Chuck (Cindi) Gerl of New Lenox; nine grandchildren, Bill (Dana) Gerl, Erin (Chad) Adamson, Meaghan Gerl, Lauren (Tim) Morris, Kevin (Sarah) Blackburn, Ryan Blackburn, Ben, Cate and Adam Gerl; nine great-grandchildren, Jake, Reece, Tate, Katelyn, Maddie, Blake, Luke, Emily and Casey along with numerous nephews and nieces.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bernie Gerl; parents, Frank and Julia (Matichak) Tomac; brother, Frank (Delores) Tomac; parents- in-law, Andrew and Mary Rose Gerl; siblings-in-law, Marie (Gib) Bauer, Andy (Betty) Gerl, Don (LaVerne) Gerl and Jim (Mary) Gerl.
We would like to express our gratitude to the wonderful and caring staffs of Willow Falls Senior Living, Silver Cross Hospital ICU and 6th floor and finally to Joliet Area Community Hospice Home who helped her complete her journey.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Joliet Area Community Hospice would be appreciated.
Relatives and friends are invited to gather at St. Mary Nativity Catholic Church, 706 N. Broadway Street, Joliet, IL on Monday, February 1, 2021 where a Mass of Christian Burial for both Bernadine and Bernie will be celebrated at 11:00 am. Face masks are required. Social distancing and capacity limits will be followed. Interment will be held privately at St. Joseph Cemetery.